By: Sanae Hamzaoui, Project Manager Education & Events.
It happens every year. A flow of young professionals (judges, prosecutors and civil servants) come to The Hague, the legal capital of the world, and get equipped with up-to-date knowledge and skills to strengthen the rule of law in their own countries.
At the Asser institute, we know this quite well: since 2012 and until the end of 2015, together with two partner’s organisations Ecorys and The Hague Academy for Local Governance, we organise a series of trainings in The Hague on pre-accession and rule of law. Through this programme, our sponsor, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aims to promote institutional capacity- building in the field of the rule of law within government organisations in the target countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) using the Dutch experience and best practices.
Another important objective of the trainings is the creation of networks among the participants. The past three years have seen a large number of alumni (almost 600 up to October 2014) and the challenge of keeping all of them “in touch” and enabling them to continue sharing their experiences needed to become a reality.
It is with great enthusiasm that the Asser institute has responded positively to the request of the Dutch government to implement a follow-up project that would involve the participating countries and all alumni. The idea of organising a series of events in the region appeared to reach the objectives well: a roundtable where selected alumni would share experiences since their passage in The Hague, followed by a reception where other organisations and embassies in the host country will gather and network.
Five Matra Patrol countries have been chosen to host the roundtables each one with a different topic. On November 7, 2014, we kicked off this follow-up project in Ankara by discussing “Process of Harmonization with EU standards”, quite relevant for Turkey at the moment.
Our first surprise was how “our” alumni reacted to our invitation: would you be able to attend a one-day event, and give a short presentation with colleagues from your country (colleagues who attended one of the Matra Patrol trainings in The Hague but not necessary the same one)? Yes, yes and yes! Not only alumni were delighted to meet and greets their friends again but they are particularly keen to share their experiences and discuss deeply all aspects of their daily work related to the given topics. The same goes for Tirana, where the second roundtable took place on another interesting topic: “Judicial cooperation in the region: criminal and civil law matters”. Again, the attendees list astonished us: alumni, representatives from relevant organisations, ambassadors of the invited countries. The Netherlands initiative is welcomed by everyone.
At the moment, our alumni are gathered in Skopje, and the last two events will be held in Sarajevo and finally Belgrade. At the end of the project, a virtual platform will be created where all participants will be connected and sustainable network will be facilitated.